The Skateboard Moms' Blog

A Blog by Women Skaters, for People Everywhere.

How This Mom Survived the Kennedy Center Snake Sessions September 16, 2015

Patti at the Kennedy Center

by Patti Hurst

I’ve always passed on the really intense bowl sessions. If I know it will be a snake session – where two or more skaters try to claim the next run by dropping in at the same time – I stay home. When a session heats up, I sit down, pop open a can of beer, and watch the show. Snake sessions can be dangerous and, as a mom with a full-time job, I can’t afford to be seriously injured.

When the Kennedy Center sponsored the Finding a Line event here in Washington DC, we all knew it would be 10 straight days of snake sessions. The enormous front plaza of the Center was transformed into a skatepark. There was a custom-built, 4-foot, wooden bowl with pool coping! Music acts performed at the bowl’s edge while very experienced skaters charged the bowl day and night. Most of the time, there were dozens on deck fighting for runs. These sessions were the most intense I’ve ever seen. It was common to see three and four people skating the small bowl at once.

On my first day there, I watched from the deck as (mostly young male) skaters dropped in on each other, and frequently collided. My heart raced and my breath quickened as I imagined colliding too. I considered unpadding and watching from the sidelines. That wouldn’t have been so bad; it was a great show, and the music was fabulous.

But I wanted to skate that bowl! And I wanted to get over my fear of snake sessions. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived! In fact, I skated there several days in a row without serious injury. And, I learned a few strategies for reducing risk during a snake session:

  1. It’s always a good idea to pad up and wear a helmet, but it’s especially smart during a snake session, when you can just about count on collisions.
  2. Before you step up to the coping, learn the lines of the people skating with you. I watched until I knew where each skater was likely to go and what tricks each would likely miss. This information allowed me to predict when a run was likely to end, and where. It gave me a few precious seconds to prepare to start mine.
  3. Wait until a skater misses a trick on the far side of the bowl. If the run ends near you, your path is blocked until that skater exits the bowl and, by that time, it’s too late. The people on the far end of the bowl have already claimed the run.
  4. The instant a skater on the far side of the bowl misses his or her trick, shove your board up to coping with your foot. If you wait until the skater is out of the bowl, it’s too late. If you set your board on the coping any other way, it’s probably too late. As you are shoving your board to coping, quickly scan the coping to see who else has a board on. Watch out for people rolling in as well. Then, make a judgment about whether you can safely drop in without hitting those skaters head on.
  5. When you decide to go, don’t hesitate. Put your head down and go. Once in, look to see who else is in with you.
  6. Many people choose to take a line straight across the bowl, as if it were a miniramp. This minimizes the chance that you will hit another skater as you drop in. You can continue with a carve line from the next wall once the question of who has that run is settled.
  7. From there, adjust your line as needed to navigate around the other skater(s). It helps to have solid front and backside skills, and a few basic lip tricks, like axle stall and rock-fakie, so you have options. Don’t expect to ride your best. The key goal for any newcomer to this kind of session is to stay on your board.
  8. Some people will exit when they realize you’re in the bowl with them, some won’t. It’s up to you to decide whether to keep skating with the people who dropped in with you.
  9. If you do keep skating, read the line(s) of the other skater(s) in the bowl. If a skater is going high for a lip trick, you go low. When you miss your trick, get out fast! If you can’t get out fast, get your board and move out of the way of oncoming skaters until the coast is clear to get out.
  10. Accept the fact that collisions will happen. Get low and try to avoid direct impact. With luck, no one will get served.

Of course you don’t have to skate a snake session if you don’t want to. If you’re not feeling it, there’s no shame in sitting it out. And you probably shouldn’t skate a snake session until you have solid bowl skills and feel very comfortable at large, mellow, sessions. If you do decide to take a run, pat yourself on the back when the session is over! You’ve just survived your first snake session!


Moms: learning to carve well is just like having a baby. August 14, 2013

by Patti Hurst

“Are you having a contraction?”  My obstetrician was peering at me through my splayed legs with a quizzical look on her face.  “No,” I grunted in response.  “Then why are you pushing?” she asked, with exasperation in her voice.

I had good reason to push, I thought to myself at the time.  I had been in labor by that point for many hours, my first and only daughter was almost here, I was exhausted and I wanted her out of me!  I thought that, by pushing as hard as I could, even when my body was not contracting, I could speed up her arrival.  But, I was wrong.  As any woman who has been through labor knows, no amount of pushing is going to help move things along without a strong uterine contraction.

“What does this have to do with skateboarding,” you ask?

It occurred to me as I was skating my home bowl tonight that learning to carve well is really all about learning to sense when it’s time to push, and when it’s time to hang on and enjoy the ride.  Like a laboring mother, you have to time your effort precisely in order to achieve the flow every skater searches for during a run.

I’ve been skating bowls for seven years, and I like to think that I can carve fairly well, even if I don’t have a whole lot of tricks in my bag.  I remember what it was like when I was first learning, when I was unable to read the terrain in front of me, and had no sense of when I needed to exert myself in order to nudge my board ahead of me and gain speed.  I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, no matter how hard I tried.

I see so many skaters, both men and women, who struggle to carve well.  You’ve probably seen them too.  It’s not for lack of trying.  They thrash and swing their arms as they navigate the bowl, grunting and grimacing with the effort, coaxing their seemingly uncooperative skateboards to carry them forward.  Some even look like they could be in labor themselves!

Learning to carve well is about backing off on all that effort.  It’s about lightening up.  It’s about reading the terrain in front of you.  It’s about noticing when it’s useful to exert yourself, and when it’s not.  It’s about learning to anticipate the next opportunity to gain speed.  It’s about positioning yourself within that terrain to take full advantage of the next opportunity.

If I could go back to the day my daughter was born, I would tell myself to ease up a bit, to relax, to notice what my body was doing, naturally, to deliver.  I would tell myself to go with the flow, just as I do now, every time I drop in on my skateboard.


Patti carving a bowl at the park in Arvada, Colorado.


Are you ready to drop in? June 19, 2008

by Patti

When I was a brand newbie, I obsessed about learning to drop in.  I thought of nothing else.  I had to do it, and I couldn’t move on until I did.

And, eventually, I learned, after many painful, failed attempts.  I think I had been skating about 4 months when I finally dropped in successfully.



Courage. November 5, 2007


 Skatemom Ji, rock to fakie, in California.

“Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’ ”  — Mary Anne Radmacher


What will you do today? November 1, 2007


Skatemom Jean from Arizona, doing what she loves most in Mexico

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt


Why do we skate? October 23, 2007

Filed under: extreme sports,humor,moms,mothers,skateboarding,trick tips,women — skateboardmoms @ 7:32 pm

Jessica, 5-0 grind, in New York

Skatemom Jess, 5-0 grind, in New York

You asked for it:

It keeps us healthy.

It keeps us feeling young.

The wind in our hair is a blast.

It’s fun to laugh at ourselves.

We’re proud, strong women.

We look cool when we do it.

We haven’t forgotten how to play.

We haven’t forgotten we need to play.

We love being with our friends.

It’s better than chocolate.

It’s more fun than sex … sometimes.

It gives us a chance to hang with our kids.

And our husbands and brothers.

Or just to get away.

It teaches us life’s lessons.

We smile on the way home.


HOT TIP: How to pump on a half-pipe. October 1, 2007

Filed under: extreme sports,moms,mothers,skateboarding,trick tips,Uncategorized,women — skateboardmoms @ 7:53 pm

Skatemom Patti pumping her miniramp in Virginia.

Skatemom Patti pumping on her miniramp in Virginia. 

Pumping on a half-pipe isn’t easy, and it’s even more difficult to explain. But we’re gonna try, because we’ve all been there, stuck on the ramp, unable to maintain momentum. It takes time and practice to perfect your pump, but you will get it eventually.

Here are some tips that have helped many of us. Everyone learns differently. It’s important to give them all a try!

1. Understand that pumping is a lot like swinging on a swing. If you miss a pump you’ll lose momentum.

2. There are two spots you can pump on each wall of a half pipe: at the bottom of the transition, and at the top. You have to pump both ways, not just going forward.

3. In general, keep your weight centered on your board between your bolts, and keep your body perpendicular to your board and the riding surface. Keep your knees fluid and bent.

4. When you hit the wall you’re unweighting to allow yourself to go as high as possible up the wall; when you start to come back down you’re putting as much weight as possible on the board to shove it forward down the wall.

5. When you weight down at the apex — right as you’re about to come back down — it often helps to reach down and try to touch the board with your hand. That’ll put you in the right crouched position. Stand up a bit again as you get to the flat.

6. Initiate your pump from your calves. Your legs should burn after only a few minutes of pumping.

7. Some people swing their arms back and forth to help with pumping. Others sort of thrust their hips ahead of them or up the ramp to help. It’s all what works for you.
Experiment and have fun!


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